January fiction releases to set you up for 2023

Ok, we’ve all been there: your New Year’s resolution is to either get into reading or to read more. But how do you get started? Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child; we’ve got you covered.

Start the year fresh with these incredible fiction reads that will make those dreary January days fly by.

A Writer’s Diary by Toby Litt

Galley Beggar Press, 9781913111373, p/b, £10.99, 03/01/2023

From the author of Patience (shortlisted for the 2020 Republic Of Consciousness Prize) comes another great achievement with Galley Beggar Press. Whilst tucked inside the mind of Toby Litt, we are offered an insight into a year in the life of a writer and the characters he encounters. Day by day, Toby offers intimate details about his family and well-being, insights into creative writing, and other fascinating reflections, ranging from the immediate surroundings of his desk and study out into the world and on to infinite possibility. As the year unfolds, an increasingly urgent narrative starts to build. This book reads like an effortless page-turner that will not leave readers the same. The Observer has described it as “a deeply moving treatise on life, death, parenthood and the function of writing,” sure to leave the reader feeling at once harrowed and inspired. You won’t regret picking up this book.

Binge by Douglas Coupland

Vintage Canada, 9781039000544, p/b, £16.99, 12/01/2023

Here we have 60 short stories laced with Douglas Coupland’s trademark observational profundity about the way we live and his existential worry about how we should be living. From the bestselling author of Generation X, Binge is an exercise in crackpots, cranks and sweetie-pies; dad dancers and perpetrators of carbecues; people in the grip of unconscionable urges; lonely people; dying people; silly people. With laugh-out-loud humour and awe-striking acumen, Binge is a collection every micro-fiction fanatic needs on their shelves — also perfect for those trying to improve their reading habits this year as you can dip in and out on the go!

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

Soft Skull Press, 9781593767273, h/b, £22.99, 12/01/2023

A Black lawyer puts her career and moral code at risk when she moves in with her coffee entrepreneur boyfriend and his doomsday-prepping roommates. For fans of Zakiya Harris’s The Other Black Girl and Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, The Survivalists is a quick-paced, eye-opening read full of intrigue, tension, and wit. While exploring relationships and culture, Cauley weaves in humour, irony and surprise, all while being unafraid to ask the questions most relevant to a new generation of Americans: Does it make sense to climb the corporate ladder? What exactly are the politics of gun ownership? And in a world where it’s nearly impossible for young people to earn enough money to afford stable housing, what does it take in order to survive? A debut novel set to rock your socks off, this is a book you won’t be able to put down!

The Witnesses Are Gone by Joel Lane

Influx Press, 9781910312971, p/b, £8.99, 19/01/2023

From those who brought you Boy Parts by Eliza Clarke and The Trees by Percival Everett, The Witnesses Are Gone is a first-hand account of a journey into the underworld — a look behind the screen on which our collective nightmares play. Martin Lane moves into an old house, where he discovers a box of old cassette tapes in the garden shed. This spirals him on a journey to find out more about the filmography of the morbid and disturbing little-known director, Jean Rien. What he discovers is something he never expected. This is a dreamlike rendering of obsession, secrets, and rituals. Unsettling and uncanny, beware of being sucked in on the very first page.

The Last Pomegranate Tree by Bachtyar Ali, translated by Kareen Abdulrahman

Archipelago Books, 9781953861405, p/b, £15.99, 26/01/2023

Bachtyar Ali’s The Last Pomegranate Tree is a phantasmagoric warren of fact, fabrication, and mystical allegory, set in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s rule and Iraq’s Kurdish conflict. Muzafar-i Subhdam, a peshmerga fighter, has spent the last twenty-one years imprisoned in a desert, yearning for his son, Saryas, who was only a few days old when Muzafar was captured. Upon his release, Muzafar begins a frantic search, only to learn that Saryas was one of three identical boys who became enmeshed in each other’s lives as war mutilated the region. A philosophical journey of formidable depths, The Last Pomegranate Tree interrogates the origins and reverberations of atrocity.

Sisters by Judith Barrow

Honno Welsh Women’s Press, 9781912905768, p/b, £8.99, 26/01/2023

An accident and a terrible lie tear a family apart. When sixteen-year-old Angie blames her younger sister for their brother’s death, she changes their lives forever. Lisa is sent away, Angie spirals into self-destruction and they don’t speak for thirteen years. Returning in 1983 for their mother’s funeral, Lisa quickly realises her sister is trapped in a dangerous marriage. What does Lisa owe to the family that betrayed her? And if she tries to help, will she make things more dangerous for them all? For fans of Liane Moriarty, Louise O’Neill, and Jo Spain, this heart-racing novel is packed full of intrigue and suspense.

The Book of Desire by Meena Kandasamy

Galley Beggar Press, 9781913111366, h/b, £14.99, 05/01/2023

The Book of Desire, this month’s Book of the Month, is the award-winning writer Meena Kandasamy’s luminous translation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl, a 2000-year-old song of female love and desire. The Book of Desire is Meena’s own feminist reclamation of the text — a text primarily about intimacy and desire that has only ever been translated by a woman once before despite its many male renderings. This is a book that is full of delight and fizzes with energy — and a translation that conveys powerful messages about female sensuality, agency, and desire. It is a revolution 2000 years in the making. You’ll never look back once you pick up this gentle yet daring translation. Read more about it here!

Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appachana

Verve Books, 9780857308344, h/b, £19.99, 17/01/2023

A novel that’s beautiful both inside and out, Fear and Lovely tells the story of 19-year-old Mallika who suffers a traumatizing incident and must climb her way out of the abyss. In a narrative that unfolds elliptically from the perspectives of Mallika and the seven people closest to her, the astonishing story of these characters’ lives emerges. Mallika’s family, childhood friends and the two men she loves are all hiding truths. As each gives voice to contending with their own struggles, secrets and silences shatter. For fans of Monica Ali and Arundhati Roy, Fear and Lovely is a poignant story with writing both rhythmic and sharp that you’ll never forget.

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